Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cargill boosts production

Cargill has increased beef slaughter at its Better Beef plant in Guelph and at its plant a High River, Alta., to supply retailers whose beef has been recalled by XL Foods of Brooks, Alta. because of E. coli 0157:H7.

Even with Cargill’s increase, a number of beef counters remained empty for days at the nation’s biggest supermarket chains – Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro, Safeway and Co-op.

“We are hopeful this Is a short-term situation,” said Cargill spokesman Mike Martin.

While the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has hinted that XL might be able to resume slaughter in a week, there have been no firm commitments. The plant has capacity to slaughter 4,000 head a day and is Canada’s second-largest plant.

Cargill’s two plants are the largest in their respective areas - the West and the East.

While farmers, retailers and some consumers are no doubt pleased that Cargill is stepping into the breach, I'm worried.

Neither the plant staff nor the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's meat inspectors may be able to handle the increased volume safely.

After all, unions for both sets of workers at XL Foods complained that things were moving too fast to maintain quality.